This is the ultimate in large caliber rifles, it has a 2 Gauge or 2 Bore caliber.  These very large bore rifles are all custom made, from the principle that they would not be too popular with anyone but the specialist shooter.

Firearms manufacturers would never conceive of putting such guns into production due to their high level of custom uniqueness and exclusivity.  Therefore all of these super big bore rifles are one off's, built by their owners or built specifically for a shooter to their exacting specifications.

Gunsmiths will generally construct any weapon a shooter requires (within the legal limits and local laws) as this type of custom gun is usually only within reach of the limits of the owners wallet!

A webpage I have on an exclusive pistol that fires the Nitro Express .600 bullet for example can be made for around $17,000  So a custom rifle such as this 2 Bore would have a considerable dollar value.



There are also muzzle loading varieties of the 2 Bore but if you want to get down to business then the cartridge version is the one to have.

Cartridges can be hand loaded to the shooters required and regulated safe amount and are easier and cleaner to shoot, especially on a cold wet and windy day.

Below a guy by the name of Alan Myers fires off a 2 Bore rifle at night, there is an impressive fireworks display  with every shot! Some serious barrel cleaning would be needed after firing a 2 Bore gun as well.



Below the 2 Bore muzzle loader variety.  It is a percussion rifle in that percussion caps placed on a side nipple and hammer assembly are used to ignite the powder. 

Another way to tell that its a muzzle loader is the visible  ram-rod that is positioned under the barrel, there is close up of this further down the page.  The ram-rod was used to push (ram) the shot and any wadding down the barrel, a time consuming process.



Incidentally, this rifle weighs thirty-two lb's with a barrel that is three feet long.  It was built by master gunsmith, Mr. Steve Zihn in Wyoming, U.S.A for a customer who intends to go on a big game hunting expedition in Africa...I wonder what's wrong with a good and trusty .375 H&H rifle?

Cold fingers and wet weather are always a hindrance when firing black powder weapons that have delicate percussion caps and "open" powders that need to be kept dry.  The advent of cartridges put all that trouble aside, as the bullet, powder and percussion cap/primer became a sealed all-in-one weather proof unit.

Below: On the left is a relatively giant .700 Nitro Express cartridge with its massive 1000 grain bullet, this is next to the awesome 2 Bore with its 3500 grain solid bronze bullet.  Yes folks, that's a 3500grn bullet!  And if the velocity could be as high as normal rifles, then a 2 Bore could be considered as an anti-tank piece.



Below are some cartridge cases from several normal  guns compared to the 2 Bore. First on the left is the large .50 Smith & Wesson Magnum, next to that is the  Winchester .45-70 followed by the .700 Nitro Express, and finally the super massive 2 Bore.



You could probably put all the other cases into the 2 Bore case alone.  Make no mistake the 2 Bore is a very large caliber, don't forget it is only 50% short of being a 1 Bore or having a l lb  bullet weight.

The bore of a gun is devised by how many bullets can be made out of a pound weight of lead, in this case only two bullets can be made hence 2 Bore @ 3500grn  from a possible 7000grn in one lb.

Below is a standard 9mm parabellum pistol bullet standing next to a 2 Bore cartridge case, this should help to give some scale to the size of this massive rifle caliber.


The German company of Schroeder & Hetzendorf  actually make cartridges for this 2 Bore rifle and they are called the S&H 2-Bore Black-Powder Express cartridges.  The cartridge is filled with the much more slower burning, less volatile black powder, as opposed to the more modern faster burning  nitro genus powders. 

The reason for this is that if modern powders were used then the gun would be too dangerous to fire by an individual as the recoil would be 100% more potent and almost guaranteed to smash the shoulder of the firer, regardless of whatever protection was being used.

Also the barrel thickness would have to be greatly quantified to withstand the enormous pressure involved...measured in tons per square inch in this instance. As it is, black powder does not produce the same high pressures and the barrel walls do not have to be over thick as seen in the image below.

Incidentally, the round silver thing is the ramrod, as its a muzzle loading rifle this is needed to ram down the shot.



The muzzle of a 2 Bore gun is still something to behold, it looks as though it should belong affixed to the side of a battleship!

The size of the ball shot/bullet as seen below that this rifle fires is 1.326 inch or 33.68mm in diameter.

It would inflict damage to a target if you were just to throw it! Generally this shot is custom forged by a gunsmith or the rifles owner, as they are not readily available over the counter of your local gun dealer.

Below the imposing 2 Bore ball shot, compared with a dollar coin, that's a lot of metal there!


Photo credits: Colin of Stolzer & Son's Gunsmithing, Kansas, U.S.A


The elongated bullet for the cartridge variety of the 2 Bore is made of bronze and weighs 3500 grain which is ½lb  or 226.80 grams! Even though these bullets are fired from a rifle, the true designation would be more fitting to the similarity of a shotgun rifled slug.


In the United Kingdom these guns are similar to punt guns in that they used to be fired from a punt boat on a river, although punt guns could exceed a caliber of 2 inches.

Punt guns were usually so big, they could not be fired from the shoulder, specially at over 2ins caliber, but literally resting on the side of a barge.  In the United Kingdom, Punt gun calibers are restricted to a mere  1.75 inches - 44mm.

Below a firer wisely uses a rifle stand to steady the heavy 2 Bore gun before firing it.  The recoil that a 2 Bore rifle delivers means the firer should use every assistance aid available.



The velocity of this super massive bullet leaves the barrel at only  1500 fps (most rifle calibers are in excess of 2800 fps) so they are in effect relatively slow, but this is made up by the massive delivery of energy at the target end, we are talking a colossal 17,487 ft-lbs of raw energy!

Luckily there is a YouTube  video of this behemoth being fired to better illustrate its size. As you can imagine, this gun is not your everyday shooter but more of an exclusive specialist gun.

Below, out of the rifles on display here, the 2 Bore stands out a mile, for those still unsure...its the third one up from the bottom.



Whether or not this gun is suitable for hunting big game such as African antelope or elephant is open to conjecture, as apart from the super recoil, these bullets do travel at a relative slow velocity.

They are also heavy to handle and slow to aim, the ammo is heavy to carry and is incredibly expensive. (see below) Due to the air drag coefficient with the bullets cross section, they also slow down dramatically in flight and therefore the bullet would lack serious penetration qualities.  It would also have a trajectory like a rainbow.

For steel knock down target shooting though, this would probably be the ideal caliber, and could you imagine the clang it would make as the 3500grn bullet hit the steel plate!  It would indeed present itself as a great fun gun to shoot, but what about the price of those cartridges...




At the time of writing, 20th June 2009, a single 2 Bore cartridge costs between $80.00 to $85.00 each.  Even hand loading them yourself is a major expense as the empty cartridge cases are $495.00 per pack of ten ( shipped ) and the solid bronze or copper bullets are $295.00 per pack of ten ( shipped ) which now actually equals $790.00 for ten rounds of 2 Bore ammunition...not including the charge of black powder needed for each round to be fired.

So then there is the cost of the black powder to load them up @ 320 grains per cartridge for a light load we are now looking at over $80 each. A 2½ lb keg of black powder would be needed for fifty rounds at approx $50 per keg.  However a (safe) standard load would require about 440grn equalling about thirty-two loaded rounds from 2½lb of black powder.

Just imagine firing off fifty rounds down the range, it would cost over $4,000.  When I went shooting, regardless of gun used, I'd get through a minimum of one hundred rounds per visit, so I would be looking at what...well over $8,000 for an afternoons shooting.  Now...are you sure that you still want one?




Page created June 20th 2009. Updated December 30th 2012